The defender, who played alongside the Frenchman in Turin between 2012 and 2016, is “sad” he hasnt reached his best level at Old Trafford

Paul Pogba “is the LeBron James of football”, according to Juventus star Giorgio Chiellini, who has heaped praise upon the Manchester United star amid rumours linking him with a return to the Allianz Stadium.

Pogba has enjoyed a stellar 12-year career at the highest level, winning the World Cup, four Serie A titles and the Europa League among a whole host of major honours.

The 28-year-old has only played for two teams at club level, with his best performances saved for Juve between 2012 and 2016, during which time Chiellini was in awe of his ability.

Chiellini thinks that Pogba, who began his career at United and rejoined the club six years ago for £89 million ($116m), has only been unable to replicate the same form at Old Trafford due to bad luck.

The Juve and Italy defender still sees the midfielder as a master of his craft and has talked up his talents amid rumours he could head back to Turin when his contract with the Red Devils expires in June.

“Pogba is the LeBron James of football. Really, when I see him growing up it’s fantastic,” Chiellini has told The Times. “When I saw him that first week of training I said, ‘What? He is not real!’

“He was from Manchester United, so I expected to meet a good player but I also thought if he is not playing for United he cannot be a top one. But he was.

“He was different from the others and I’m sad that [since rejoining United] he is not showing completely what he is.

“He has done fantastic in many matches but has not been lucky, with injuries and for other reasons. He has not been able to show, continuously, all his skill.”

Chiellini was also asked to name his toughest opponents, and began by expressing his admiration towards Paris Saint-Germains Kylian Mbappe.

“At the moment, I think [Kylian] Mbappe is the most talented,” he said. “I first played against Mbappe when he was 18 in 2017 and he was unbelievable. I can’t imagine what he’s like now and what he can do in the future. I love his mentality.”

Zlatan Ibrahmovic was next to be mentioned by the 37-year-old as he reflected on his past battles with his former Juve team-mate, who is now taking in a second spell at Milan and has also starred for Inter, Barcelona and PSG.

“From the past my best enemy was Ibrahimovic. He is unlucky to play in the period of Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi because without them, Ibra would have a few Ballons d’Or,” Chiellini added.

The Juve captain went on to admit that United frontman Ronaldo and PSGs Lionel Messi are in a different league to their peers, having worked with the former at the Allianz Stadium and been dazzled by the latter on a number of occassions when he was at Barcelona.

“Cristiano and Messi are aliens. Not from the herd,” said Chiellini “I was lucky enough to play with Cristiano at Juventus for three years and seeing him day by day, you understand some of his secrets.

“He works every day to achieve his goals — and finds new goals all the time. In the big moments, when you need him, he is there.”

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